Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) is expected to become chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, following Monday's announcement that longtime Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is resigning. Cochran, 80, has been in declining health. The committee controls vast amounts of federal spending. Shelby's ascension to the chairmanship is expected to be a game-changer for Alabama, political observers said. "He has already done a lot for the state, and I would expect, in that chairmanship, he will do even more," former state Rep. Paul DeMarco (R-Homewood) said.